Pathology of The Skin

pathology of the skin

Pathology is a branch of medical science that deals with the study of diseases in general and also the study of causes and effects of the disease. Pathology of the skin is known as Dermatopathology.

Skin as we know forms the major link between man and the environment. The skin is the Human body’s LARGEST ORGAN, covering an area of about 2 square meters or 22 square feet and weighs around 3.6 kilogram. It is the thickest on palms and soles of feet measuring about 1.5 mm thick and the thinnest on the eyelids and post auricular region measuring 0.05 mm thick.

Skin has four identifiable layers:-

  • Epidermis
  • Basement Membrane
  • Dermis
  • Hypodermis

Skin complaints affect all ages from neonate to the elderly. Skin complaints cause;

Discomfort such as itching, burning as in eczema.

Disfigurement like acne and psoriasis.

Disability as in loss of work and wages as in dermatitis of handstand feet.

Death is rare but is still seen in skin cancer and widespread blistering.

Causes of skin diseases

Some common causes of skin disease are as follow:-

  1. Bacteria like staphylococcus, coryneform and streptococcus in the skin pores.

  2. Fungi, parasites and other microorganisms living on the surface of the skin for example-

Fungi- tinea, candida

Parasite- lice, bedbugs, sarcoptes scabiei.

  1. A weak immune system.

  2. Viruses like HPV(Human papillomavirus), VZV(Varicella-zoster virus), morbilli virus.

  3. Genetics

  4. Contact with another person’s infected skin, allergens and irritants.

  5. Thyroid disorders, kidney complaints also cause skin disease.

  6. Prolonged bowel related disorders.

Most common skin disorders

In order of minor to major the most common skin conditions are as follows:-

  1. Acne:- one of the most common skin conditions around the globe, occurs mostly in the teenagers and can last upto middle age. It appears over face, chest, back, shoulders and neck. It is caused due to clogged skin pores with oil or dead skin cells.

  2. Cold sores:- also known as Herpes labialis, mostly found in the age group of 14-40 years caused by HSV(Herpes simplex virus). Contagious in nature it appears as small blisters around the lips and mouth that are triggered by hot sun and cold air. Usually lasts up to two weeks.

  3. Hives:- also known as Urticaria is an allergic reaction causing pale red wheals on the skin that can be small as a coin and big as a plate. Lasts from a few minutes to 24 hours or may be 6 months.

  4. Rosacea:- most commonly seen in fair middle aged women. Comprises of red flushed face with pus- filled bumps around cheeks, nose, chin, forehead and back. The skin is very sensitive and raised.

  5. Eczema:- also known as Atopic Dermatitis is most common in children but can occur at any age. It is a chronic condition that flares up periodically, eczema makes the skin red, itchy and flaky.

  6. Psoriasis:- chronic condition in which skin cells multiply ten times more than normal and cause red, itching, scaly patches on the skin. Most common type is plaque psoriasis.

  7. Keratosis pilaris:- also known as Follicular pilaris. Appears as small acne like bumps on the skin which do not itch or hurt caused by buildup of keratin.

  8. Melanoma:- also known as Skin cancer. Begins in the melanocytes which control the pigment in the skin appears as a mole on one skin but spreads rapidly. Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin diseases.

  9. Lupus:- also known as Systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease inflammatory in nature which affects the skin, joints, heart, lungs and brain cells. Lupus appears as a widespread rash on the skin, sun-burn like flare up thick and scaly in nature mostly triggered by sunlight and stress.


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